Marketing is the art of communicating a message to consumers and persuading them to respond in some way. It is about knowing what people are attracted to and how and when to appeal to them with a targeted message. In many cases, marketing is also about attracting attention and about the presentation of the concept you are trying to sell. This is why colours are important, especially in visual marketing where attention is grabbed by images and visuals. This brings us to colour psychology.

Colour psychology deals with how our perception of colours impacts our behaviour. Colours have different meanings, histories, connotations and psychological effects and some of these vary across individuals and cultures. Colours are a way to express ourselves and to connect with others. They are literally a window into how we see the world and how we interpret it.

One of the first people to start investigating how colours affect our minds was the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. He stated that “colours are the mother tongue of the subconscious” and developed art therapies, especially for people who needed to overcome traumatic experiences. He thought that colours had different meanings and that they symbolize specific things for different audiences. Additionally, they were a way to express emotions, which is why Jung’s patients were encouraged to create art and express themselves through colours.

The psychology of colour is now mostly used in marketing and advertising, where the end goal is to grab consumer’s attention and to influence their behaviour. Consumers may end up buying a product solely because of its colour, even if they do not realize it. Up to an astounding 85% of consumers may buy a product due to the influence of colour, which makes it one of the most powerful tools in marketing.

Colour Examples

Blue:

The colour blue is associated with calmness and serenity. It invokes stability and trust, and may be the color for brands who wish consumers to see them as professional and trustworthy. It offers a sense of security and productivity and is also associated with taming strong emotions and curbing appetite. It’s sense of confidence makes it a colour that is used by financial institutions, banks and tech companies alike. 

Examples: Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Bol.com, Oral B, AOL, Boeing, Dell, Ford, Phillips, KLM, Visa

Red:

The colour red is used to grab consumers’ attention. It increases heart rate and blood pressure and is linked to passion and energy. It can bring strong emotions and is associated with survival and alertness. Brands may use it to create urgency in buyers (such as with sales). It is also often used in food products and restaurants as it may be able to stimulate the gustatory glands. 

Examples: Coca Cola, Netflix, YouTube, McDonalds, Lego, Nestle, Toyota, CNN

Green:

Green is a colour that is mostly related to nature. It symbolizes health, growth and generosity, though it can also be connected to wealth. It is used in stores to provide a sense of relaxation, and is also used in products that want to be seen as connected to the environment. It stimulates harmony and is the perfect fit for companies who want to indicate freshness or a new start. 

Examples: Holiday Inn, Starbucks, Spotify, Heineken, BeyondMeat, Garnier

Yellow:

Yellow is the colour associated with cheerfulness and happiness. It represents optimism and positivity, though it is also used to express warning. It is a colour that will grab people’s attention. Moreover, brands that wish to leave their audience with a sense of positivity or optimism about their products may wish to employ this colour. 

Examples: IKEA, Best Buy, McDonalds, DHL, Nikon, PostIt, Shell

Purple:

Royalty is one of the first things that comes to mind when thinking of the colour purple. It is associated with respect and wisdom and is used in a context of power and nobility. It can also symbolize spirituality and wealth and is connected to solving problems. Additionally, creativity and wisdom are connected to it. Purple can be used to promote luxury brands, cosmetics and creative enterprises. 

Examples: Yahoo, Cadbury, Twitch, Roku, Milka, Hallmark

Orange: 

The colour orange is a colour that promotes excitement, adventure and enthusiasm. In marketing it is associated with affordability and is used to create a call to action. It is seen as a cheerful and playful colour that is also sometimes used to appeal to children. Moreover, it can be seen in coupons and stores that want to advertise the value and accessibility of their products. 

Examples: Fanta, Firefox, Blogger, Dunkin Donuts, Lufthansa, Mastercard, Nickelodeon, Coop